Evers declares state of emergency in wake of protests

By Patrick Lynn

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in the wake of several protests across Wisconsin.

Executive Order #86 proclaims a state of emergency in Wisconsin, directs state agencies to continue assisting the state response and calls to state active duty additional elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to support first responders and protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions.

A series of protests, which later turned violent, erupted in Kenosha Sunday after in the hours following the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a black man, after he appeared to pull away from police officers and lean into his SUV during an incident at a home in Kenosha. According to the Racine County Eye, rioters “set numerous buildings on fire, including the probation office, a furniture store, an apartment building, car lots, and a Family Dollar. People looted a Walgreen’s store, stole an ATM, blocked traffic, and stole gasoline from a nearby gas station to start fires.”

Blake is listed in stable condition but is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down, RCE reported.

Protests also occurred in Madison, which also involved some violence and looting. 

Evers also released the following statement regarding the protests:

“The ability to exercise First Amendment rights is a critically important part of our democracy and the pursuit of justice. But there remains a line between peaceful assembly and what we saw last night that put individuals, families, and businesses in danger,” Evers said in his statement.

We cannot forget the reason why these protests began, and what we have seen play out over the last two nights and many nights this year is the pain, anguish, and exhaustion of being Black in our state and country. But as I said yesterday, and as I’ll reiterate today, everyone should be able to exercise their fundamental right—whether a protester or member of the press—peacefully and safely. We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue. We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.

We are assessing the damage to state property and will be increasing the presence of the Wisconsin National Guard to ensure individuals can exercise their right safely, protect state buildings and critical infrastructure, and support first responders and firefighters.

Tonight, and in the days ahead, if you are going to protest, please do so peacefully and safely. Please do not allow the actions of a few distract us from the work we must do together to demand justice, equity, and accountability.”

Evers has authorized the National Guard to help “protect critical infrastructure and assist in maintaining public safety and the ability of individuals to peacefully protest in Kenosha County,” the press release said. About 250 Guard members will be deployed.